Networking, Stuffed Animals, and Legos

friends

It is no secret that I love people.

So, I love being in the crowd and really enjoy meeting new people.

When I attend conferences, I feel like I have hundreds of friends I have not met.

( Yep… I am an extrovert.)

I truly feel like I am about to meet someone who may influence my life in an amazing way, gain a new book buddy or new prayer warrior.

I truly believe the next person I meet might be a new client for me or a new customer for one of my clients.

I truly believe the next person I meet might introduce me to other amazing people or ideas.

Let me tell you about my daughter’s collection of stuffed animals.

animals

My nine year old daughter has many stuffed animals.  At last count, she says she only has 37 objects of affection.

Small ones.

Big ones.

Fluffy ones.

Old ones.

New ones.

All of them have a story and most of them have a name.

You could say she collects stuffed animals.

Let me tell you about my son’s collection of LEGO toys.

My son is about six years older than my daughter and loves LEGO toys.  lego

He has thousands of LEGO toys in all different colors and unique shapes.  He has built so many different things with his LEGO toys.  From Star Wars Star Ships, weapons, venues, and vehicles. The really cool thing about LEGO toys is the way they connect.

I was recently talking to a group of entrepreneurs about networking and building relationships that matter.  We visited the collecting vs connecting idea.

Ivan Misner defines networking as “The process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence or serve the community.”

I love his definition.

Networking is not using people to grow your business.

Networking is not about increasing your contacts, or building your list.

Networking is about developing relationships and connecting with people to serve.

What do stuffed animals and LEGO toys have to do with networking?

We can look at networking just like my daughters collection of stuffed animals or my son’s LEGO toys.

Stuffed animals are not better than LEGO toys.  LEGO toys are not better than stuffed animals.

However, each one serves a totally different purpose.

Networking is the same way.

If we look at networking as my daughter’s stuffed animal collection, we think we are winning when collecting contacts. Boxes of business cards are not networking and having information about 29,000 people does not equal relationships. Social media can give us an appearance of “belonging” with our 2,000 BFFs or maxed out friend requests, yet if we are honest, we have never felt more alone.  I am not saying an email list is bad or that having 500 + contacts on LinkedIn is frowned upon.  I am challenging you to know the difference so you get the result you want.

If we look at networking in the same way my son’s LEGO toys connect, we see one block can build on another block. Blocks serve a purpose to build just like networking.  When we connect, we are intentionally choosing to create something to share, serve, or stimulate the world in a different ways.  Amazing creations are built as one connects with another one.  I am not saying you will want to connect with all the people you meet.  You get to choose what you build and with whom you connect.

There is a real difference between collecting and connecting.

Look at the way you view networking.

Are you collecting information to use, or are you making a connection to build upon?

Are you desiring to build your list, or create a lasting legacy?

As you plan your networking strategy this year, make a conscious effort to have a plan and know your purpose for networking.

My challenge to you is to collect items and connect with people.

If you want help in creating it or making it better, contact me.  We are here to help!

 

 

 

 

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